The Domestique Critique: Performance Ultra Jersey & Bib Shorts

Photo Rhea Aldridge http://www.rheaaldridge.com/

 

If you have a preconceived notion of what “bike shop kit” is, then this review is for you. If you are looking for a reasonable kit from an accessible shop, then this review is for you. If you turn your nose down at anything from a major retailer, then this review is for you.

I had the chance to test out Performance Bicycle’s line of women’s kit all summer long and going forward I promise never to talk smack about them again. In the cycling community, we’re raised to believe that small batch equals highest quality and limited quantities equals “better”. But major retailers offer an ability to capitalize on their reach and offer great pricing for quality products, fabric and bicycles. So read on to see how I fared in Performance’s kit.

Photo Rhea Aldridge http://www.rheaaldridge.com

First on deck is the Performance Ultra Short Sleeve Jersey. It’s a very lightweight jersey and the color scheme hit every popular color this season so I had a plethora of sock choices, which always pleases me. It doesn’t scream RETAIL SHOP and it felt soft, similarly soft to my Italian fabric jerseys that cost 4 times as much.

The fit pleasantly surprised me. The sizing chart was spot on and I zipped up a perfect fitting jersey from sleeve length to hip length. It slightly tugged across the shoulders with my back straight, but that disappeared in the riding position. The jersey is comfortable, almost never reminding me of bands, zippers or seams. Although this jersey is billed as next-to-skin for aerodynamic greatness, I really felt like it was more ‘form-fitting with real comfort’ in mind. Aero + comfort rarely go together in cycling kit, so kudos to Performance. Bonus: this jersey material offers UV protection.

The collar of this jersey is low in the front so the zipper won’t irritate skin, and it’s so soft you hardly know it’s there. The zipper features a full strip of reflection, a great addition for sunset rides or early morning start times. Small details of reflective material are also on the rear pockets. The silicone dashes on the inner hem didn’t ride up when I was riding and I was pleased to discover a feature not typically seen in lower-priced jerseys – a media cord loop behind the neck that makes it easy to route your headphones. Three back pockets hold extra gear and a zippered, sweatproof pocket with a cord port secures my iPod and house key.

Photo Rhea Aldridge http://www.rheaaldridge.com

If the jersey pleasantly surprised me, the bib shocked me. No offense, Performance, but I had low expectations for fit. Similar to Gap or Mossimo, I expect clothes meant for a wide range of bodies to not actually fit well on any body, but that myth has been shattered. The fit of these Ultra Bib Shorts was exceptional. It’s great to know I can trust a size chart once in a while.

The seamless chamois is an Italian foam with an air mesh layer that wicked away moisture and felt light yet dense on the saddle. Overall, the bibshorts were not as breathable as claimed, but I never felt that issue with the chamois, where it counts. Several fabrics were sewn together (10 panels!) to make this bib technologically sound, but aesthetically it creates a bit too much on the eye. Thankfully, the seams didn’t rub on the skin, even through the friction of pedaling. The upper straps were a lightweight mesh and the leg bands were flattering and comfortable. It’s rare you find a good leg band in a lower-priced bib so I was thrilled to avoid the dreaded sausage leg.

 

Overall

This kit is a fantastic choice for a cyclist of any level. It’s well-priced, of high quality, and from a trusted, reputable store brand. It’s a sensible kit with a great fit.

Full disclosure: I received the kit reviewed in this post free of charge. The decision to write this review and all opinions expressed are 100% my own. This is not a sponsored post. Thanks as always for reading!

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